Hear a general, hug a sheik: Congress visits Iraq
By Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Damien Cave, New York Times, August 26, 2007
The meal was just one stop in a jam-packed tour that included visits with Sunni and Shiite tribal leaders (”a sheik engagement,” the Pentagon itinerary said), a chat with the Kurdish deputy prime minister and the all-important photographs with hometown soldiers to show constituents at election time. Just another day in Baghdad in August, high season for Congressional travel to Iraq.
The trips, highly choreographed affairs known as codels, for Congressional delegations, are an annual rite of summer for lawmakers, but they have taken on fresh urgency. With Democrats running Congress and Mr. Bush’s troop increase due for an intense re-evaluation in September, roughly 50 lawmakers have tromped through Iraq this summer, and their impressions are having a profound effect on the debate. [complete article]
Editor’s Comment — I don’t imagine Congressional tourism is much different from tourism in general: it’s about the convenience packaging of experience for those who lack the time or interest to accumulate real depth of understanding and a true sense of place.